Home » A BMW iX With An Experimental Battery Just Travelled 608.1 Miles On One Charge

A BMW iX With An Experimental Battery Just Travelled 608.1 Miles On One Charge

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With all the hype surrounding electric cars, you’d expect a breakthrough in battery technology to be right around the corner, right? While solid state batteries haven’t quite burst onto the mainstream, they aren’t the only option in the free marketplace. A startup called Our Next Energy is getting promising results out of what it calls “dual-chemistry architectures,” the latest of which involved a bucktoothed crossover.

An electric BMW iX with an experimental “Gemini” battery from Our Next Energy has reportedly traveled 608.1 miles on a single charge using the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) cycle. Yep, 608.1 miles. Quite the distance, isn’t it?

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Alright, the WLTP cycle is wildly optimistic, but still. A range of 608.1 miles represents more than a 50 percent improvement over the range of a stock iX. That’s huge. Crazier still? Our Next Energy uses two different battery chemistries to make everything happen. Here’s how the company explains it.

Gemini’s dual-chemistry architecture contains two different cell types using different battery chemistries. Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells power the motor and meets the demands of 99 percent of daily trips with a range of 150 miles. For longer road trips, the Gemini uses high energy density anode-free cells to provides an additional 450 miles of range by transferring power through ONE’s proprietary high efficiency DC-to-DC converter. Coupled by the DC-to-DC converter, the two cells work together to offer more than 600 miles on a single charge. Gemini is the longest-range EV battery pack that fits in the typical 300-400 liter space available in a vehicle for energy storage.

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In addition to improved range, the Gemini battery hope to reduce the use of battery materials. In ONE’s words, this battery “reduces lithium use by 20% while reducing graphite use by 60% and minimizing the use of nickel and cobalt.” All noble stuff, no doubt. ONE’s battery technology is fascinating and promising, but don’t think of it as a silver bullet. As impressive as 608.1 miles of WLTP range on a single charge is, there are a few things to keep in mind before this Gemini battery pack whips you up into a fury.

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Gemini Battery Illustration
Our Next Energy’s Gemini architecture combines lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells and anode-free cells.

 

First, this experimental battery pack is incredibly power-dense, 450 Wh/L to be precise, yet this application seems focused primarily on range rather than efficiency, thanks to a “185 kWh+” capacity. Of course a vehicle will get insane range if it has a ton of kWh to use, but vehicles with massive energy capacity tend to suffer from longer charging times. I would like to see a greater focus on kg/kWh rather than ultimate distance, as the balance between efficiency and range is necessary for resource allocation, for adoption, and for charging equity.

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It’s also worth keeping scale in mind. Now, I’m not saying that building experimental batteries is easy or anything, but a prototype is a world away from mass production. The company has raised funds to build a battery plant in Michigan so mass production is in the works, though the company just reportedly laid off 25% of its salaried workers.

One Bmw Ix
A BMW iX with a prototype Gemini battery on a hub dynamometer used for efficiency testing.

 

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Even without the matters of homologation, simply ramping up production capacity will be a challenge, and breakthrough battery technology needs to be accessible to truly matter. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens, whether or not BMW ends up commercializing this technology.

(Photo credits: Our Next Energy)

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Phuzz
Phuzz
2 months ago

A prototype is a long way from a production battery sure, but at least it’s a hell of a lot closer to reality than 90% of the “scientists invent new battery that can charge in three seconds” stories that you see.
All of which are based on a lab experiment that usually couldn’t even power an LED, but come from a research lab/university with a good PR department.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
2 months ago

They managed to invent a fully electric PHEV.

AC2DE
AC2DE
2 months ago

That’s how it reads to me, too. Interesting. I wonder how efficient those DC-DC converters are…

10001010
10001010
2 months ago

So does somebody smarter than me want to explain how batteries work without an anode? What I’m finding online says they still use an anode current collector but I’m not sure how that works.

Jon Benet
Jon Benet
2 months ago
Reply to  10001010

Yeah you are right about the current collector. For anode free, when they make the battery sandwich, they leave out the anode material. So that anode material is supposed to hold the lithium ions in place, but without it, the lithium bonds directly to the current collector. The advantage is easier to move the ions from + to -, but problem is that the lithium is going to kind of electroplate it self to the current collector. Each cycle is going to add a new layer of lithium and eventually all the lithium is going to end up stuck to the current collector. Hence the poor cycle life.

10001010
10001010
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon Benet

That helps, thanks

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
2 months ago

Honestly, at this point the charging speeds are not a significant problem as long as you can fully charge overnight. When driving more than 600 miles in a day, I’m going to stop a couple of times to stretch my legs and use the bathroom. I’m also likely to stop for a sit-down dinner. If I can get an extra 150 miles from charging while I’m stopped anyway, that pushes me out to 750 miles.

Have I ever driven more than 750 miles in a day? Yes. Is it a common thing? No. Would I be upset if I had to plan some logistics based on being limited to 750 miles in a day? Nah, that seems fine.

All that said, I’d realistically be pretty happy if they instead cut this battery pack in half. If the electric car weighed less and had a range of 300 miles, that would be plenty for the bulk of my driving. I have a hybrid that makes an excellent road trip beast and uses already-available infrastructure.

SNL-LOL Jr
SNL-LOL Jr
2 months ago

If my car has a face like that, I’d go as far away as possible and live out the rest of my days in solitude.

Sbzr
Sbzr
2 months ago

nearing 1000km, I know I’m an anomaly over car usage but with that kind of range I would only need to charge my car every other month

Chronometric
Chronometric
2 months ago

You save a lot of energy by not using turn signals.

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
2 months ago

One time records like this don’t mean much, especially if the guy started somewhere with a high elevation, and had a tail wind.

I get a massive boost in economy in my 60hp 1g insight if I have a tailwind. My record is 84mpg.

Conversely, if I have a 20mph headwind, it’s honestly hard to get decent MPG because the car is so underpowered.

So basically…. 600 miles, okay… now let’s see what it does going the other way. 300?

Studdley
Studdley
2 months ago

The Tesla roadster flying through space absolutely smokes this thing.

Alec Rosenbaum
Alec Rosenbaum
2 months ago

Something like this may be the best of both worlds. You can charge the “short range” battery for daily use and then charge the “long range” battery only when you’re going out of town or towing. The system could maintain the long range portion for shelf-life purposes but not regularly deplete or charge it.

A downside is that you’re always carrying around the long range battery weight.

Maybe the long range portion could be configured that it could be dropped out of the bottom of the vehicle and only installed when it’s needed. The owner could drive over it, jack it up, put in 8-10 bolts, electrical hookups, coolant hookups, and be good to go. Or if the owner isn’t mechanically inclined, they could rent a shelf at their local service center and go in to get the extended battery quickly installed or removed. Or maybe the long range battery could be rented.

I know I’m rambling now; and we’ve discussed battery swap stations (a-la-China) before. But having a “city” battery and an optional “range” battery is a difference take on the matter.

Jason Roth
Jason Roth
2 months ago
Reply to  Alec Rosenbaum

Honestly, it’d be kind of a brilliant solution, especially having the slow-charging, long-range battery be swappable, so you rarely charge your own, and instead swap in a fresh one before each long-range trip.

Unfortunately, it’s one of those clever engineering solutions that is likely infeasible due to scaling & infrastructure constraints—if you could magic-wand the system into place, people would love it, but you’d never grow enough critical mass to actually make the whole thing go.

Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
2 months ago
Reply to  Alec Rosenbaum

I dig the idea – even better if you can use the long range/extended range to power your house in emergencies. Would this type of battery work for that?

RC
RC
2 months ago

Maybe I missed it, but what *is* the chemistry in the anode-free cell?

David Tracy
David Tracy
2 months ago
Reply to  RC

See new image!

Jon Benet
Jon Benet
2 months ago
Reply to  RC

Gemini is LFP cells + LMO cells. Their site says, the anode free, uses a manganese rich cathode. I like the idea cause the LMO cells only go into effect after the LFP’s 150 mile charge is used. So the LMO cells charge the LFP cells, so they are being used only after the vehicle depletes the LFP portion of the pack. So it really isn’t that complicated, you daily charge the LFP portion and the LMO kicks in on road trips. The negative with this system is that the LMO cells dont have the best cycle life 300 to 700 charges. So if you drive long distance every day and the LMO battery kicks in, you only get so many time before that part of the battery dies. The other LFP cells will last the life of the car. So it seems that pack would start to degrade about the 150,000 mile mark until it bottoms out at the 150 mile LFP range.

Gubbin
Gubbin
2 months ago

Huh, I guess if you’ve developed a low-rate, high-density battery, using it as a “range extender” makes as much sense as anything else. It’s a good demo but I imagine they’re aiming more for utility-scale usage.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
2 months ago

No sense in rushing down to Batteries Plus, yet.

AssMatt
AssMatt
2 months ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

Batt ‘R’ Us

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
2 months ago

Nice write up that answers TMD questions. It is still a technology in a state of flux, and probably will be for a while. Who wants to install a home charger for an obsolete standard? That and battery lifespan is why older model prices will plummet.

Chronometric
Chronometric
2 months ago
Reply to  Hoonicus

Electric motor batteries in a state of flux. Woulda gaussed?

AC2DE
AC2DE
2 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

All right, all right. Don’t get too amped up about it.

(Couldn’t resist. Not sorry.)

V10omous
V10omous
2 months ago

Getting closer…..

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